Pokamorapothar (Jamugurihat), Feb 25 – “If I am asked to name the greatest personality of Assam who has contributed most to Assamese life and culture, I would definitely take the name of Srimata Sankardeva. I am sure my compatriots of the State would not differ on my choice, for there is none in the history of Assam who has exercised so much influence on the Assamese way of life, culture, literature and religion as Sankardeva has done,” said noted littérateur Dr Lakshmi Nandan Bora here today while releasing the souvenir of Barechaharia Bhaona Mahutsav titled Bhaona Mahutsab.
Dr Bora said in fact, without Sankardeva’s noble contributions, Assamese culture and literature would not have been what it is today.
The footprints of this Mahapurush (great soul) are still visible in the present-day Assam. Sankardeva, after noticing the sorrows and unrest among the mankind, set out on a pilgrimage to north India seeking wisdom and knowledge, and met the famous saint Kabir of north India as well as many sages and wise men.
Dr Bora, urging all concerned to build up a peaceful society said, “The Mahapurusha stood against the meaningless rites and rituals of the day and preached a simple faith to the people that is still popular among the people as the Ek Sharan Naama Dharma, (chanting of the name of one God devotedly).
“For him the worship of the idols of numerous gods and goddesses was unnecessary as the same Supreme Soul exists in all human beings. He taught that devotion, not salvation is the aim of all human life. He also opposed vehemently all class distinctions and man-made social barriers. Ultimate emphasis was placed on singing and reciting of Bhajans. For this purpose, he wrote a book named Kirtan Ghosha which till today has remained a priceless gem of Vaishnava thoughts. In the task of establishing the new faith, he was helped by his disciples Madhabdev, Damodar Dev, Haridev, etc.,” Dr Bora said and added that after having set up the new cult on a strong footing in the Ahom kingdom, Sankardeva with his disciples settled at Koch Behar, the capital of Koch kingdom in the year 1537.
After a long earthly sojourn of 118 years, Sankardeva breathed his last in the year 1568 leaving behind a trail of immortal fame. Today Srimanta Sankardeva is remembered not only as a great religious reformer and preacher, but also as a great scholar and a renowned writer. Sankardeva greatly enriched Assamese language and literature and raised it to a high, his main works including Harish Chandra Upakhyana, Rukminiharana Kavya, Gunamala, Bali-Chalana, Amritha-Manthana, Gajendra Upakhayana, Kuruskshetra, Ramavijayanta and Kirtan Ghosha. Kirtan Ghosha, the book of songs based on Bhagavad-Purana is the bible of Assamese Vaishnavism. It is not simply a book, rather it is a document of keeping the people spiritually and communally united, which is reflected here on the platform of Barechaharia Bhaona.
“I must say here that his Bhakti Ratnakar is a masterpiece in Sanskrit exposing his wide learning and profound scholarship. His concept of Satra and Nam ghar has revolutionised social life in Assam. Sankardeva is also credited to have developed a new type of dance form called Satriya. His dramatic works such as Rukminiharan, Parijat Haran, Kaliyadamana, etc., have raised Assamese literature to great heights. His fight against social demarcation of the time will go down as another lasting legacy of this great soul for which today Assam and the Assamese people can never forget the noble contributions of this great son of the soil.
“Assam is yet to produce a man of his intellectual depth, legacy and greatness. He has made the Assamese people pulsate with a new culture, a new faith and a new social order. The Renaissance in Assamese culture and literature initiated by Srimanta Sankardeva continues to echo throughout the length and breadth of Assam even today,” Dr Bora maintained.